Meghana Srivastava/Sun Staff Writer

Replete with candles, performances, and authentic Indian food, Duffield Hall was transformed into the "Festival of Lights" Saturday evening.

November 24, 2019

Diwali Dhamaka Celebration Offers Dose of Light on Cold, Winter Evening

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Once a year, Duffield Atrium, normally the home of engineers working late into the night, becomes adorned with lights and candles as a mix of Bollywood and Indian classical music plays in the background.

That colorful scene arrived once again on Saturday evening, as students celebrated Diwali Dhamaka, an annual event which highlights Indian culture in the form of song, dance, food and art.

Student received Henna tattoos, applied by members of Cornell’s Hindu Student Council, and painted diyas — small, clay lamps that are often used in Diwali celebrations and prayers. Attendees watched live performances by cultural groups such as classical music act SPICMACAY and dance troupe Cornell Nazaquat, while enjoying authentic Indian food.

“There were a lot of activities, like the Diya painting [and] performances, so I was looking forward to this,” Krinal Thakkar ’23 said.

While waiting by the painting stations, Helena Echenique ’23, Meghana Gavirneni ’23 and Priya Mukhi ’23 highlighted the affordability of the event, and the wide variety of activities that were included.

“The food was really worth it, like five bucks was really cheap for all the stuff that we’re getting,” Echenique said. “We’re really excited to see the other performances,” Gavirneni added.

The event was organized by HSC, the only Hindu student organization on campus, according to president Smita Bhoopatiraju ’21.

Anjali Saini ’21, the vice president of HSC, spoke with The Sun about her role in organizing the event — a task that required assigning members of the organization to different tasks and coordinating with the Student Activities Funding Commission to obtain funding.

Saini described the labor-intensive process of managing members, explaining that a cadre of volunteers were responsible for setting up the ornate set of light demonstrations, table clothes, candles, chairs and balloons.

Despite the arduous effort that goes into putting on such an elaborate event, Saini, who joined the organization her freshman year, said that helping to host Diwali was a powerful way to better connect with both a larger community and her culture.

“I get to see how happy people get, and I get to interact with everyone who comes in the room,” Saini said.